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Freshwater Scientist

The Nature Conservancy

Delmont ,  New Jersey


The Freshwater Scientist works closely with an interdisciplinary team to help guide TNC’s freshwater conservation work toward achieving greater impact.  By providing insight from recent research, improving study design, and conducting modeling, spatial and statistical analysis, he/she will help inform and increase the efficacy of various restoration and watershed monitoring efforts, ultimately helping to determine the long-term direction of our freshwater work in New Jersey.

Essential Functions:

The Freshwater Scientist will have the opportunity to support and help shape innovative freshwater conservation initiatives in New Jersey through applied research and analysis, as well as serving as a project manager for different kinds of projects.  This position will be responsible for designing and conducting spatial and statistical analyses that will help inform the freshwater team’s efforts to prioritize, design, and implement a variety of restoration projects and initiatives—improving our short-term outcomes and ultimately helping to guide our long-term investments.  One initial responsibility will be helping to refine our watershed monitoring, but the main focus for the first two years will be leading a floodplain modeling project and predicting ecosystem benefits at multiple scales. The Freshwater Scientist will be responsible for leading the project, working with other team members to engage stakeholders, and may conduct or oversee contracts to complete watershed-wide modeling of floodplain restoration potential to increase the retention of nutrient and sediment runoff, as well as to attenuate flooding.  While the emphasis of these products will be applied to conservation planning, there also will be site-specific modeling/assessment of large restoration projects’ potential benefits needed.  Modeling efforts will be informed and supplemented as necessary by work in the field to collect on-the-ground data and ground-truth results.  Beyond this initial project, the Freshwater Scientist will help increase the scientific rigor of all of our restoration work and project/watershed-wide monitoring by providing support with study design, as well as data collection, management, and analysis.  Long-term, using the best science available, this position will help the program’s strategic direction to evolve over time, identifying new project and initiative opportunities as conditions change.  Investments will be made in geographically diverse regions; planning areas and project sites span the urban-to-rural gradient and are located in multiple watersheds in New Jersey.  This is a full-time, paid position for 35 hours/week, based in Delmont, NJ.

Responsibilities & Scope:

  • Helps to shape the long-term direction of New Jersey’s freshwater program work by providing scientific guidance, as well as insight on trends in freshwater issues and innovations in conservation practices.
  • Leads a variety of projects involving applied science, planning, and/or on-the-ground components with teams of internal staff and external partners (for example, initially leading a multi-year project to advance a pilot "Floodplain Investment Tool" toward completion and full adoption by external partners and other conservation practitioners or decision-makers: engages stakeholders; obtains needed data, such as large existing datasets relating to climate, soils, land cover, etc. and/or field data to inform calibration; ensures effective completion of hydrologic modeling and spatial analyses to predict effects of restoration on nutrient and sediment retention; oversees associated modeling of restoration effects on potential flood attenuation to assess and incorporate multiple benefits translated into user-friendly outputs).
  • Provides expertise in aquatic ecology and stream monitoring methods.
  • Increases the scientific rigor of freshwater prioritization and restoration work by developing appropriate experimental study design for restoration projects and study design for project monitoring and integrative watershed-wide monitoring.
  • Improves data management (data compilation, formatting, and storage) and performs data analysis for various studies, including stream monitoring and restoration project performance monitoring.
  • Works with program staff to develop projects and prioritization approaches; contributes to proposals and conservation planning.
  • Develops and implements modeling, spatial analysis, and other assessment methods to help prioritize freshwater conservation work.
  • Provides GIS mapping capacity, including basic map-making as needed.
  • Stays up to date on regional freshwater issues, science, and initiatives in order to provide insight to shape long-term direction of freshwater work.
  • Communicates and presents project work to different audiences, ranging from technical experts to community groups.
  • May work in variable weather conditions, at remote locations, in hazardous terrain and under physically demanding circumstances.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Graduate Degree in science related field and 1 year of experience OR equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience collecting, manipulating, analyzing, interpreting, and communicating scientific data.
  • Experience preparing reports of findings.
  • Valid driver’s license or ability to obtain one.

Preferred Knowledge, Skills, & Experience:

  • Strong understanding of ecology and environmental processes, including biotic and abiotic components of river systems.
  • Experience with project management and leading small teams, including internal staff and external partners.
  • Experience designing monitoring programs and protocols relating to stream health and freshwater restoration projects, as well as on-the-ground experience with stream monitoring and restoration projects.
  • Experience managing and analyzing large datasets, including hydrologic data and data relating to water quality.
  • Proficiency in implementing GIS analyses and using statistical packages or programming languages, such as Python and R.
  • Experience in working effectively with public and private entities, as well as in engaging multiple stakeholders in conservation work, ranging from scientific experts to local communities.
  • Very strong attention to detail and the ability to work independently and/or with minimal supervision.
  • Strong writing, speaking, and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to handle multiple priorities and meet deadlines.

This description is not designed to be a complete list of all duties and responsibilities required for this job.

For more information and to apply, please visit and search for Recruitment ID #45122 in the keyword search. 

The Nature Conservancy is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Our commitment to diversity includes the recognition that our conservation mission is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of men and women of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and cultures. Recruiting and mentoring staff to create an inclusive organization that reflects our global character is a priority and we encourage applicants from all cultures, races, colors, religions, sexes, national or regional origins, ages, disability status, sexual orientations, gender identities, military or veteran status or other status protected by law.

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